Do It Yourself Water Assessment

How Water-Smart is your Household?

Is your household as water efficient as it can be? This do-it-yourself household water use assessment will help you understand how much water you use identify leaks and show you ways to reduce your water use. It will help you conserve
water and save money at the same time!

How to Conduct a Household Water Use Assessment

The assessment includes:
a) analyzing how much water you use
b) detecting leaks (pipes, toilets and faucets)
c) Checking for and using water-efficient appliances
d) Outdoor water use
e) Changing you water ways

1. How much water do you use?

Look at your water bill.

The best way to determine how much water you use in a day is to calculate it from your water bill. Check how your bill measures water; it may be in cubic meters (m3), cubic feet (CF or CCF), gallons (gal) or liters (L). If you bill is not in gallons, use the conversion table below. If your water bill does not display average daily use, you can calculate it by dividing the number of gallons by days in the billing cycle. Divide this by the number of people living in your home.

Check your water meter.

Another way to estimate use is by reading your water meter. Water meters record how much water is used per household. Water meters are usually located outside your property. To determine how much water is used in your household, read your meter at the same time on two consecutive days. Subtract the first reading from the second one to see how much you use in a day. Repeat including weekends and weekdays and take the average reading.

2. Detecting leaks

Check for leaks within your house by first turning off all water-using fixtures. Then check the meter dial for any movement. If the meter is moving when all the water in the house is turned off, you have a leak somewhere in your home. Also, any sudden increases in your water bill may indicate a leak.


There are some easy ways to look for leaks in a house. Water marks on floors, walls or ceilings can indicate indoor pipe leakage. Outside, standing water on the ground or on pavement when there has been no rain can indicate a broken underground pipe.


Check for toilet leaks by putting some food coloring or dye tablets in the tank. Wait 30 minutes. DO NOT FLUSH THE TOILET. If the water in the bowl changes color, you have a leak. To determine which part is the problem, draw a line on the tank at the water level. Turn off the water supply to the toilet. Wait another 30 minutes. If the water level stays the same, the leak is the refill valve or float. If the water level drops below the line, the problem is the flush valve or flapper.


Simple observation can tell you if you have a bathtub or sink faucet leak. All those drips can add up, so if you see one, replace worn washers and valve seals as soon as possible. Visit http://www.awwa.org/advocacy/learn/converve/ dripcalc.cfm to use the Drip Calculator and determine how much water those leaks can waste.

3. Checking & Changing Fixtures to Save Water

Faucets and showerheads

Your current fixtures may not be very efficient. Measure the flow rate of each faucet and showerhead in the house. To do this, you will need a plastic bag or bucket, a measuring cup and a second timer or a watch with a second hand. Use the included worksheet to record your answers.

• Place a bag or bucket to catch the entire stream of water before turning it on.
• Turn the water on full blast for exactly five seconds.
• Use a measuring cup to determine the volume of water in the bag/bucket.

Convert to gallons
• Multiply the number of cups of water in the bag/bucket by 0.0625 = _____ gallons
• Multiply the number of gallons by 12 to get a flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm).

If your showerhead uses more than 2.5 gpm, you could save waer by replacing it with a new low-flow showerhead. These showerheads conserve water by mixing air with water to reduce the amount of water but still feel like higher flowing fixtures.

If your faucets (bathroom, kitchen or other) use more than 2.0 gpm, you need to change your existing aerator.


If your home was built before 1992, it may contain inefficient toilets and can use as much as five times more water than newer toilets! If you don’t know how old your toilet is or if a toilet is not labeled as 1.6 gpf (or gallons per flush), you may need to measure how much water the tank uses. Carefully shut off the valve to the toilet tank supply line. Then mark the water level in the tank reservoir. Flush the toilet. Now, re-fill the tank reservoir to the marked level using a measuring container to determine how much water is needed to flush the toilet. Once you’ve completed this task, don’t forget to open the valve under the toilet.

If your toilet uses more than 1.6 gallons per flush you could save 50-75�y installing a new toilet. The savings on your water bill could pay for the new toilet within a few years.

Year Manufactured Toilet Water
Or Installed Use Rate (gpf)
1994 – Present 1.6
1980 – 1994 4.5 – 3.5
1930 – 1980 8.5 - 5.0

Personal Water Use Chart

Activity Est. Amt. Gal. of Water

Washing face or hands - 1
Taking a shower (standard shower head) - 50
Taking a shower (low flow shower head) - 25
Taking a bath - 40
Brushing teeth w/water running - 2
Brushing teeth – water turned off - 0.25
Flushing toilet (standard flow toilet) - 5
Flushing the toilet (low flow toilet) - 1.5
Shaving - 2
Getting a drink - 0.25
Cooking a meal - 3
Washing dishes by hand - 10
Running a dishwasher - 15
Doing a load of laundry - 30
Watering lawn - 300
Washing car - 50